|Illustrator, Animator, Visual Artist, Social Activist
|Physical Stats & More
|in centimeters- 160 cm
in meters- 1.60 m
in feet & inches- 5’ 3”
|• Beloved (2015)
• India Art Fair (2018)
• The 20th (2018)
• Pilgrims in Space, Time, Identity (2019)
• Reincarnate (2021)
|Awards, Honours, Achievements
|• Chosen by TED and Levi's as an ambassador of the "Shape What’s To Come" campaign; She was one of three Indian women to be felicitated with this honour at the TED Global Conference (2011), Edinburgh
• FutureBook Innovation Award (2012) for "Khoya"
• Femina 'Woman of Worth' (2014)
• The New India Express Devi Award (2015)
|Date of Birth
|1 February 1989 (Wednesday)
|Age (as of 2021)
|Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
|Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
|Valley School, Bengaluru
|Srishti School of Art Design and Technology, Bengaluru
|A course in Design and Animation Saffron Tree
|The paternal family of Shilo Shiv Suleman served as the custodians to Sree Oorpazhachi Kavu temple in Edakkad, Kannur district. Shilo Shiv Suleman’s Instagram According to an offbeat tradition in the village, temples are not only visited but also ceremonially worn to worship Goddess Bhagwati (commonly known as Durga). The wearable shrines were a reminder that our body is a temple of God. The shrines were worn only by men, citing that women’s bodies were impure to undertake this holy tradition. Suleman broke stereotypes by wearing a ceremonial shrine and claimed that women's bodies are worthy of serving as a channel of divinity. Shilo Shiv Suleman’s Instagram
While describing her ethnicity in an interview, she said, Deccan Chronicle
"I am a half-Muslim, half-Hindu, half-South Indian, half-North Indian and was brought up in Bengaluru and Indore."
|Vegetarian Bangalore Mirror
Note: Earlier Shilo Shiv Suleman was non-vegetarian, but later, she became vegetarian
|• A geometric lotus inked on her upper back
• A bunch of flower inked on her left arm
|Relationships & More
|Abhay Deol (rumoured)
|Father- Shiv Nambiar
Mother- Nilofer Suleman (also known as Suleman Chai) (A notable a noted contemporary artist)
|Brother- Shaan Shiv Suleman (Graphic Designer at Capillary Technologies)
|Frida Kahlo (Mexican Painter), Amrita Sher-Gil (Indian Painter), Gustav Klimt (Austrian painter)
|Burning Man, La Biennale di Venezia
|Work of art
|The Kiss by Gustav Klimt
|Indian: Begum Akhtar
American: Billie Holiday, Nina Simone
|A Clockwork Orange (1971), Apocalypse Now (1979), The Shining (1980), Pulp Fiction (1994), Requiem for a Dream (2000), Kill Bill (2003), American Beauty (1999), Waking Life (2001), Spirited Away (2001), Amélie (2001), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Some Lesser Known Facts About Shilo Shiv Suleman
- Does Shilo Shiv Suleman smoke?: No. Not only did Suleman quit smoking herself, but she also made her mother quit. Bangalore Mirror
- Shilo Shiv Suleman is an Indian visual artist whose art embraces illustrations and installations. Her contemporary art exhibits magical realism, a realistic view of the modern world with a mix of magical elements.
- When Suleman was thirteen years old, her father went to China for a business trip and never returned. Thereafter, her mother solely raised her two children, meanwhile pursuing her career as an artist. While talking about those days, in her TEDx talk, Suleman said,
Art became both, the financial and the emotional, backbone of our family.”
Thereafter, Shilo and her mother, Nilofer Suleman, took to art to sustainably manage the family.
- Nilofer Suleman was a psychology student, who pursued fine arts and became a lithographer.
- Born to an artist mother, Suleman was intrigued by art since childhood. Suleman was allowed to paint on walls or whatever surface she liked as her mother encouraged relentless creativity. When she was 12, her mother decided to learn Cartography, the study and practice of making maps. Suleman used to spend hours watching her mother struggling to paint rivers and mountains with her fingers, which became a gateway into her imagination full of pirates and shipwrecks.
- Later, both, Suleman and her mother, joined the Valley School, Suleman as a student and her mother as a teacher.
- While studying at Valley School, located on a 120 acres campus to the south of Bengaluru, Suleman’s interest in art was brewed by the picturesque views that fringed the school. In an interview, while talking about her school days, she said,
That aside, I also studied in Valley School- a hundred and something acres of wild sprawling land. And all I did was wonder-wander-wide-eyed at all the trees and paint.”
During her school days, she also tried her hand at poetry and photography.
- She started following her wanderlust instincts at the age of thirteen when she travelled from Bengaluru to Goa alone. In an interview, while describing the incident she said,
I was 13 when I first got on a bus and took off to Goa alone and I don’t think that journey has ended yet.”
- Another factor that contributed to Suleman’s artistic vision was travelling around India and gathering memories in her notebook. In an interview, while explaining how travelling complimented her art, she said,
Illustration became the closest way to fulfil the gratitude I felt for those experiences and landscapes encountered. I started to draw incessantly in notebooks that I carry with me. Collecting stories, places, and faces and pressing flowers between the pages.”
- Suleman illustrated her first book at the age of 16; it was a book of children’s poems in Hindi. Thereafter, she also illustrated a spooky book called “Tak Tak” for Karadi Tales, an independent children’s books publishing house based in Chennai. By the age of 18, she had published around 10 books.
- In 2009, she co-illustrated the children’s book titled “Pampasutra” by Arshia Sattar; the mythological book is about the river goddess of Hampi.
- While studying at Srishti School of Art and Design, she was a part of a lab called the Toy Lab, where students worked on productions of toys and media for children. Studying in school surrounded by hills, farms, and reserve forests, but no computers, had made Suleman a technophobe, a person who fears or dislikes technology. The Toy Lab enabled her to engage in technology.
- In 2009, she designed a poster for the Pink Chaddi Campaign, a nonviolent movement, which was launched in protest of the attack on a group of women in a Mangalore pub by the members of Shri Ram Sena, a right-wing Hindu group.
- In 2010 she was selected for an INK Fellowship for her work as a young innovator in art and illustration.
- She developed a storybook application called “Khoya,” which was introduced in December 2011 at the INK conference. She started working on “Khoya” as a college project along with her fellow student Avijit (aka Jugular Bean). The children’s digital storybook earned the Future Books Award for the best children’s book in 2012.
- When she was young, her grandfather gifted her a silver pocket watch which was a 50-year-old piece of technology. Although it failed to show time as it did not work, it gave Suleman a vision, which served as the inspiration for the content of “Khoya,” which narrated the story of time travellers and magicians.
- Apart from working as an illustrator, she also worked as a freelance artist painting walls, instruments, posters, and T-shirts for NGOs. She has also illustrated various advertisements and magazines.
- While talking about the medium she uses for illustration, in an interview, she said,
I mainly use watercolours and collages -all sorts of textures and photographs that I find while travelling around the country… As for style- I work with what comes most naturally to me and is an almost instinctual and personal form of expression.”
- For The Bangalore edition of the Bacardi NH7 (2013), she created the functional art installation called ‘NH7 Kabootar,’ a beautifully painted tempo with post boxes nailed on the sides. The installation was a way for fans to send postcards to their favourite artists at the festival.
- She is the founder-director of the South Asia based public arts project ‘The Fearless Collective,’ which uses storytelling and participative public art as a medium to speak out about gender issues and violence to bring social change. The project was started by Suleman in 2012, in the aftermath of the “Nirbhaya” tragedy in Delhi, India, which shook the country to its core. The project was later joined by numerous passionate artists, photographers, filmmakers and activists throughout the world. Since its foundation, ‘The Fearless Collective’ has worked in various countries creating murals, reclaiming public spaces, sculpting public depictions of women, organising interactive workshops.
- Fearless, she painted her first mural for ‘The Fearless Collective’ in the streets of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. The mural consisted of a Goddess Durga with her tiger and a little girl with her cat. The little girl’s dialogue bubble read,
What we worship, we shall become.”
In response to the little girl, the dialogue bubble of Goddess Durga reads,
हर महिला देवी है (Every women is a Goddess)”
“Fearless” was written at the bottom of the mural.
- She dedicated a glorious mural to the women belonging to the Koli community, a traditional fishing community of Mumbai. Located near Sassoon Dock, one of the oldest docks in Mumbai, the mural showcases an independent formidable fisherwoman riding a bicycle wearing a Koli Saree with a caption, which read “आज़ाद” (Azaad), meaning independence. Such fierce yet humorous fisherwomen are often seen in the neighbourhood earning a living for themselves.
- With the collective, Shilo has worked with indigenous women in Brazil, refugees of Syria and Palestine, transgender sex workers in Indonesia and the Khwaja Siras (transgenders) in Pakistan.
- The Fearless Collective mural of community leader Bubbli Mallik was painted by Suleman in a car wash in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. In the mural, Bubbli Mallik, a Khwaja-sira (transgender) is riding a bike with flowers flowing from her mouth and skin, with a dialogue bubble, which reads,
Hum Hain Takhleeq-e-Khuda.” – “I am a creation of Allah.”
Although a mysterious belief in the power of the prayers of Khwaja Siras prevails in Pakistan, the Khwaja-sira communities are excluded from the society stuck in the binary of genders. The wall was created in collaboration with the students of the National College of Arts, who work with Bubbli in her canteen in Rawalpindi.
- In collaboration with the daughters of sex workers in Okhla, Delhi, the collective painted a wall full of staring eyes and graffiti that read,
Buri nazar wale, dil se dekho. Aankhon se nahi.” (People with an evil eye, look at us with your heart, not with your eyes)
- In 2012, she came into the limelight when her TEDx talk became popular, garnering over a million views in the same year.
- She was a part of the Bangalore Wallflower project.
- In the 2014 Burning Man Festival, she installed a large scale interactive art project titled ‘Pulse and Bloom,’ which visualized the heartbeats of participants by syncing them with mechanical lotuses arranged in a circular matrix shape to form a rhythmic pattern. With LED lights and pulse sensors embedded inside each lotus, Pulse and Bloom activated when participants physically interacted with a lotus.
The Burning Man Festival is a nine-day annual summer event held in the middle of the Nevada desert, United States, featuring people with wild costumes, art installations, and a symbolic burning of a 65-foot wooden structure called Temple Galaxia. For the project, Suleman collaborated with a neuroscientist. The biofeedback technology aimed at the interaction between the body and art. She also received an honorarium grant from Burning Man for the interactive project.
- She has been featured in a host of documentaries including Rebel Music by MTV (2010), Jockey Woman Portraits Season 2 by MTV (2018).
- In 2021, she was rumoured to be in a relationship with the Bollywood actor Abhay Deol after he shared a set of candid pictures with Suleman on his Instagram account.